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6 best air purifiers for litter box smell, according to our test data

Tired of the funk from your feline friend? Check out these air purifiers packed with activated carbon
By
Updated on January 26, 2024
Written by
Paul Allen
Paul is a staff writer for HouseFresh, with a focus on product recommendations and advice for smokers and apartment dwellers. He started writing in November 2020, when he joined the content production team at NeoMam Studios (our parent company).

Our verdict

  • Levoit EverestAir is my top pick. It’s the fastest-acting purifier we’ve seen.
  • Levoit Core 300S is the best budget buy. Protecting small spaces without breaking the bank
  • Austin Air HealthMate is ideal for larger rooms. 15 lbs of granular carbon will destroy litter stink. 

Having a cat as a pet is pretty awesome. Their unique personality and laid-back style often mean owners can enjoy their charm without much sacrifice to their daily lives – a winning combination for many animal lovers.  

Yet despite being relatively low maintenance, there are a few cat caregiving duties we’d rather do without. And having to deal with their litter box often takes the top spot as the worst thing about owning a cat. 

The litter box, however, does serve quite an essential purpose. Unless you don’t mind feces scattered around your home, that is. So how can we make the best of a bad situation and live harmoniously alongside the litter box? 

Inventions such as this novel poop-a-scoop certainly make clean-up duty much more accessible. But what about the odor that emanates throughout your home? For that particular funk, look no further than a trusted air purifier. 

An air purifier with powerful fans and quality filters can bring fresh air to any home. But to make a real difference to air quality, including ridding unwanted litter box smells, you’ll need to opt for a purifier stacked with Activated Carbon, which works wonders against nuisance gasses and odors that plague feline-friendly homes.

  1. In our home lab of 728 cubic feet, we light an incense stick to generate particle pollution and VOCs.
  2. We set up our trusted Purpleair Indoor Sensor with the latest Bosch gas sensor to track levels of PM1ug/m3, PM2.5ug/m3 and PM10ug/m3 and VOCs in the air.
    purpleair
  3. We switch the air purifier to its highest speed and measure how long it takes to get our room air quality down to PM1 level to 0.
  4. We use an energy meter to measure precisely how much electricity is used when running the unit at the lowest and highest fan speed settings.
  5. We track sound levels emitted by the air purifier at different fan speeds with the help of a commercial sound meter.
    sound meter

With our test data in hand, we can compare purifiers side by side to select the best tools for the job. For combatting litter box smells, these are the essential features we looked for:

  • Activated Carbon filters – To eliminate unwanted litter box smells, your air purifier must use specific carbon filters capable of capturing gaseous pollutants, such as odor.
  • Fast-acting fans – No one wants odor to linger within the home, so to rid cat litter smells fast, you’ll need powerful fans that can circulate the air in your space effectively.  
  • Smart features – Being able to program your purifier to get to work before you return home will make suffering cat litter smells a thing of the past.

Staff picks: Top 3 air purifiers for litter box smell

Looking for a quick fix to kitty-litter odor? Here’s the lowdown on our top three odor-eliminating air purifiers. 

👑 BEST OVERALL💰 FOR TIGHT BUDGETS🛋️ FOR LARGE SPACES
Levoit EverestAirLevoit Core 300SAustin Air HealthMate
AIR CLEANING SPEED ⚡13 minutes39 minutes37 minutes
CADR 👩‍🔬360 CFM141 CFM150 CFM (estimate)
FILTER TECHNOLOGY 💨3-Stage Filtration3-Stage FiltrationPre-filter + True HEPA + Activated Carbon and Zeolite
MAX ROOM SIZE 📏558 sq. ft.219 sq. ft.1,500 sq. ft.
WEIGHT ⚖️20.7 lbs (9.38 kg)5.95 lbs (2.7 kg)47 lbs (21.3 kg)
OUR REVIEW 🔍Levoit EverestAir reviewLevoit Core 300S reviewAustin Air HealthMate review
PRICE 💵$499.99$149.99$685.99

While each air purifier recommended on this list will help alleviate litter box issues, it’s important to remember that each unit is designed to work its magic in a specific-sized space. 

Check out all the options to find the ideal unit for your needs and budget below.  

1. Best overall: Levoit EverestAir 

The EverestAir combines a powerful filter with a large amount of activated carbon, perfect for capturing odors caused by litter boxes. 

In our performance test, it was able to remove tiny pollutants measuring less than one micron in 13 minutes, which is currently the fastest air purifier we have tested. 

For those with large spaces and the need to deal with cat litter odors quick, you can’t get much better than the Levoit EverestAir. The only downside is the price. At $500, this unit isn’t cheap and might be overkill for many pet owners. 

What we really like

Provides rapid results even for large rooms – five air changes per hour for a 558 sq. ft.
Highly accurate air sensors that aligned with our industrial air quality monitor that we used for our performance tests
Design-wise it looks like something Apple or Dyson would create
Large amounts of activated carbon which will deal with the odors from cat urine

What we think could be better

High price tag that might be unaffordable for many pet owners
Limited warranty for a high-end unit – I would love to see Levoit offer five years for their premium model
As of October 2023, Levoit has come out clean and said their 3-Stage Filtration system does not include a H13 Hepa Filter as originally advertised

You do get a ton of tech for your half a grand of air purifier, with all the latest and greatest features from Levoit including AirSight Plus 2.0  and the Vesync app. When putting this unit through our air performance test, I was pleased to see that the readings from the EverestAir matched those I saw on our industrial-grade air quality sensor. 

Features like app support and auto-mode mean you have more control over when your unit runs, so you can set up schedules to run when your pet uses the litter box. 

Another feature that we don’t see with any other Levoit air purifiers is the ability to adjust the fan angle. Whilst not particularly useful for cat litter odors, it does look cool and I love showing it off to visitors. 

SPECS & FEATURES

HouseFresh Rating:★★★★★
Time to clean our test room:13 minutes
Air purifier technology:3-Stage Filtration (Pre-filter for large particles, main filter for airborne particles, high-efficiency activated carbon filter for odors and gasses)
Recommended room size:558 sq. ft.
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):360 CFM (612 m3/h)
Dimensions (in inches / in cm):18.9L x 8.5W x 23.2H inches (48L x 21.6W x 58.9H cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):20.7 lbs (9.38 kg)
Noise level (low – high):24 – 56dB
Filter life:12-15 months
Warranty:2 years
Estimated energy consumption:$87.25 per year
Country of manufacture:China

2. Best budget option: Levoit Core 300S 

For those on a tighter budget, you’ll struggle to find a purifier that ticks as many boxes as the Levoit Core 300S.

This purifier comes with quality filters and impressive fan speeds and is even small enough to fit on a shelf or table. Despite being one of Levoit’s more wallet-friendly options, the 300S still shares many of the same qualities as its premium counterparts. 

What we really like

Performance that punches above its price tag, completing our speed test just as quickly as rival purifiers costing twice as much.
Draws minimal energy, allowing for round-the-clock protection from cat litter odor
Compact design is perfect for smaller cat-dwelling homes 
Optional Pet and Smoke filters provide enhanced protection against litter box smell

What we think could be better

With a CADR score of 141 CFM, this is the least powerful option on this list
Its more basic design makes it feel like a cheaper product than it is

For the best results against litter box smells, I’d recommend upgrading this unit’s filters to Levoit’s Pet Allergy or Smoke Remover. Both options include more decent quantities of Activated Carbon, as well as using Levoit’s ARC Formula, which decomposes trapped odors once they’ve been captured inside the unit. 

SPECS & FEATURES

HouseFresh Rating:★★★★★
Time to clean our test room:39 minutes
Air purifier technology:3-Stage Filtration (Pre-filter for large particles, main filter for airborne particles, high-efficiency activated carbon filter for odors and gasses)
Recommended room size:219 sq. ft.
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):141 CFM (240 m³)
Dimensions (in inches / in cm):8.7L x 8.7W x 14.2H inches (22L x 22W x 36H cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):5.95 lbs (2.7 kg)
Noise level (low – high):24 – 48dB
Filter life:6 – 8 months
Manufacturer’s warranty2 years
Estimated energy consumption:$52.56
Country of manufacture:China

3. Best option for large spaces: Austin Air HealthMate 

With a colossal Activated Carbon filter containing 15 lbs of granular carbon and zeolite, the Austin Air HealthMate is one of the best air purifiers for tackling any type of odor, including litter box smells.

Alongside the wealth of odor-absorbing substrate, you’ll also find two separate Pre-Filters and a True HEPA filter to keep any other intruding pollutants at bay, such as pet dander and fur. 

Austin Air’s fan and HEPA power is less powerful than its competitors, which is a shame considering they’ve developed a best-in-class carbon filter. Claims that this unit can work inside spaces as large as 1,500 square feet are certainly wide of the mark. I found this option would be better suited to a room half that size if it is to work effectively.  

What we really like

Utilizes the largest Activated Carbon filter in the household purifier market
Its filters withstand the test of time with a super-generous 5-year lifespan
Carbon and Zeolite combination increases odor absorbency 
A 5-year warranty offers added peace of mind

What we think could be better

It uses a lot of energy – one of the most power-hungry units we have tested
Weighty design but at least it has castor wheels

Considering the Austin Air Healthmate’s high price, I’d love to find more features such as an Auto mode or in-built air sensor. However, for those adverse to product manuals, it couldn’t be simpler to set up and use. Just turn the one-button dial to your desired fan speed, and voila, you can wave litter box smells goodbye. 

SPECS & FEATURES

HouseFresh Rating:★★★★☆
Time to clean our test room:36 minutes
Air purifier technology:Carbon Filter, HEPA Filter, Pre-Filter, Large Particle Pre-Filter
Recommended room size:750 to 1500 sq. ft. 
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):150 CFM (estimated based on HouseFresh tests)
Dimensions (in inches / in cm):23H x 14.5W x 14.5D inches (58.4H x 36.8W x 36.8D cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):47 lbs (21.3 kg)
Noise level (measured from 3 ft. away):Speed 1: 42 dB
Speed 2: 53.2 dB
Speed 3: 61.5 dB
Filter life:5 years
Electricity consumption (kilowatt-hour):Standby mode: 0 kWh
Speed 1: 61.1 kWh
Speed 2: 85.05 kWh
Speed 3: 147.6 kWh
Estimated running costs (electricity consumption + filter replacements):$254.56 per year
Manufacturer’s warranty:5 years
Country of manufacture:US – Buffalo, New York

4. Alen BreatheSmart Flex

The most affordable air purifier within the Alen BreatheSmart line, offering excellent air cleaning performance that includes particle pollution as well as smells and gasses.

The BreatheSmart Flex is the latest offering from air purifier heavyweight Alen. Known for its premium products (as well as premium prices), this new model sees a change in Alen’s approach, being more affordable and, as the name suggests, more flexible to the different needs of its users.

However, a cheaper price tag doesn’t mean Alen has compromised on quality. I was pleased to see that you’ll still find top-of-the-range filters and fans in this model. This BreatheSmart Flex is designed for medium-sized spaces but still enjoys a powerful CADR score of 225 CFM. All while being super energy-efficient and whisper-quiet, allowing you to keep cat litter smells at bay throughout the night.

What we really like

High-quality air purifier and filters from a brand you can trust
No ionizer technology on this unit, so there is zero ozone produced
Lifetime warranty offered with filter subscription for added peace of mind
Sleek design that comes available in a choice of colors 

What we think could be better

Doesn’t come with any Smart features — which, if you can’t live without, take a look at the BreatheSmart 45i or 75i 
Not quite as quick as the Alen 45i in our performance tests 

Alen offers a range of long-lasting filters to combat specific issues such as litter box smells. All of these come with an H13 HEPA capable of capturing 99.9% of particles as small as 0.1 microns, alongside varying levels of protection from VOCs. 

I recommend opting for the Odor Neutralizer, which utilizes high concentrations of carbon to eliminate pet odors like those from litter boxes quickly.

SPECS & FEATURES

HouseFresh Rating:★★★★☆
Time to clean our test room:34 minutes
Air purifier technology:H13 HEPA with an option for activated charcoal (Fresh, Odorcell and Heavy Smoke options available)
Recommended room size:700 sq. ft.
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):225 CFM (Smoke:  191 / Pollen: 245 / Dust: 209) 
Dimensions (in inches / in cm):25H x 15W x 8.5D inches (63.5 x 38.1 x 21.59 cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):15 lbs (6.8 kg)
Noise level (measured from 3 ft. away):Speed 1: 35.7 dB
Speed 2: 45.5 dB
Speed 3: 50.7 dB
Filter life:Every 9-12 months
Electricity consumption (kilowatt-hour):Standby mode: 0.8 kWh
Speed 1: 2.9 kWh
Speed 2: 6.3 kWh
Speed 3: 14 kWh
Speed 4: 24.2 kWh
Estimated running costs (electricity consumption + filter replacements):$94.23 per year
Manufacturer’s warranty:Lifetime (with product registration & active filter subscription)
Country of manufacture:China

5. Mila

For fans of gadgets and gizmos, Mila is the best option out there for you.

This super smart air purifier does all the hard work for you; simply switch it to Auto mode and reap the rewards of clean, odor-free air. 

Using advanced sensors and highly adjustable controls, Mila has developed an excellent air purifier that users can tailor to their space at the touch of a button. I was majorly impressed with the Mila’s fast-acting fans, which drew on the unit’s impressive CADR score of 263 CFM to react instantly to unwanted litter box smells.

What we really like

Choice of filter allows you to tackle litter box smells effectively
In-built air quality sensors provide detailed feedback on PM1, PM2.5, PM10, VOCs, CO2, CO1 levels
Powerful fans capable of cleaning the air in large rooms
Impressive in-app controls for highly adaptable protection

What we think could be better

Choice of filters may be overwhelming to the uninitiated 
It runs on the louder side when you set it to its top fan speed

As for filters, Mila offers a wide range of options to meet its users’ needs best. This means varying HEPA densities, sizes and levels of Activated Carbon. 

Their Critter Cuddler filter offers all-around protection from pet-related pollution. Still, if the smell from your cat litter box drives you crazy, I’d recommend upping the ante and opting for the Home Wrecker, thanks to its larger quantity of Activated Carbon. 

SPECS & FEATURES

HouseFresh Rating:★★★★☆
Time to clean our test room:35 minutes
Air purifier technology:HEPA (ranges from H12-H14) + Activated charcoal (granular carbon)
Recommended room size:1000 sq. ft.
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):263 CFM (447 m³/hr)
Dimensions (in inches / in cm):12L x 12W x 15H inches (30.48L x 30.48W x 38.1H cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):18 lbs (8 kg)
Noise level (low – high):24dB – 74dB
Filter life:6 months 
Manufacturer’s warranty:1 year
Estimated energy consumption:$52.56 per year
Country of manufacture:China

6. Smart Air S (with Activated Carbon filter)

You’ll find a serious motor and powerful fan underneath the cute exterior of the Smart Air S.

For this option to work its magic against litter box smells, you’ll have to opt for the additional Activated Carbon filter. Even though I wish this filter came as standard, I can’t deny it is an excellent choice, filled with carbon granules that provide a large surface area to capture odors such as funky cat litter.

Despite its compact design, it will be incredibly effective when cleaning the air in spaces as large as 430 square feet.

What we really like

Small design but mighty performance, with a healthy CADR to $ ratio too
Filter uses carbon pellets for a larger surface area capable of capturing more VOC and odors
Filter replacements are readily available and affordable
Incredibly easy to set up and use, allowing it to get to work right away

What we think could be better

We wish the Activated Carbon filter came as a standard
Some users may miss additional Smart features; the Smart Air S has a simple one-wheel button that switches it on and changes speed

I loved how the Smart Air S can fit nicely on a shelf or table, so it’s not eating up living space or gaining too much attention from our four-legged friend. Plus, its modern aesthetic complemented the appearance of any room I tested it in. 

SPECS & FEATURES

HouseFresh Rating:★★★☆☆
Time to clean our test room:50 minutes
Air purifier technology:H12 HEPA and optional activated charcoal filter
Recommended room size:430 sq. ft. 
Clean air delivery rate (CADR):185 CFM (315 m³/h)
Dimensions (in inches / in cm):13H x 13W x 14.3D inches (33.02H x 33.02W x 36.32D cm)
Weight (in pounds / in kg):10.1 lbs (4.58 kg)
Noise level (measured from 3 ft. away):Speed 1: 35.5 dB
Speed 2: 49.1 dB
Speed 3: 58.2 dB
Filter life:6 months
Electricity consumption (kilowatt-hour):Standby mode: 0 kWh
Speed 1: 5.6 kWh
Speed 2: 19.7 kWh
Speed 3: 39.4 kWh
Estimated running costs (electricity consumption + filter replacements):$105.20 per year
Manufacturer’s warranty:1 year
Country of manufacture:China


What to look for when buying an air purifier for litter box smell

Ventilation is key for ridding your home of unpleasant odors, but cracking a window isn’t always an option with resident cats. Instead, air purifiers can deliver fresh air and eliminate the airborne particles causing the smell. 

But with so many options on the market, knowing which features to look for isn’t always straightforward. 

From high-quality filters to futuristic controls, there is plenty to bear in mind when making your choice.  

1. Is the purifier capable of removing odor?

For an air purifier to capture unwanted odors, it must utilize Activated Carbon filters. These filters work by locking gasses (known as VOCs) into the pores of a carbon substrate in a process called adsorption. The filter’s more carbon equates to a larger surface area to lock in odors. 

Remember that not all air purifiers use this type of filter as standard. Even units recommended on this list, such as the Smart Air Sqair, Mila and BreatheSmart Flex, require an additional or upgraded Activated Carbon filter. Be sure to add this filter to your basket if you choose one of these options. 

2. Does the unit come with quality HEPA filters?

As well as unpleasant litter box smells, your home will be full of harmful pollutants, including allergens, mold and bacteria, especially if you have a pet. You’ll want to double up on protection with a HEPA filter to eradicate these pollutants and leave your air fresh and healthy.

High Efficiency Particulate Air filters are now considered the industry standard for keeping the air clean. The HEPA certification guarantees that the filter can capture at least 99.7% of pollutant particles as small as 0.3 microns, so you know you’re safe.  

3. Will you benefit from any smart features?

Smart features increasingly appear in everyday appliances, with air purifiers no exception. These can range from App or smart speaker compatibility, allowing you to control your purifier remotely, to Auto or energy-saving modes, where the purifier monitors the air quality in your space and adjusts the purifier settings accordingly.

These features are advantageous. Just imagine firing up your unit while on your way home from work and creating an odor-free environment when you return. That being said, they can be overkill for many users and you may pay a premium for features you might not use. We also know that some consumers don’t like a unit that will be constantly broadcasting WIFI or Bluetooth signals.

to look for when buying an air purifier for litter box smell

Each air purifier is designed to clean the air in a specific sized space. From small, budget-friendly units that will be effective in your snug or study, to powerful purifiers that can clean the air in large, open-plan spaces. 

To make a difference to your air quality, you’ll need to measure the room where the cat litter tray resides. You can select a purifier best suited to your space with measurements in hand. 

Make sure to use our handy calculator to find out what CADR rating you should look for in an air purifier to ensure it’s powerful enough to clean your room:


Common questions about litter box smell

Living in a smelly environment is a surefire way to induce stress and anxiety.  Cats themselves are particularly fussy when it comes to toilet time. If their litter box is unpleasant or dirty, they may find new places around the home to do their business, further compounding the issue. 

But beyond unwanted aromas spreading throughout your space, cat litter can threaten our health. 

As well as odor, ammonia will also be circulating throughout your air. Exposure to this toxic gas can cause a raft of health complications, from headaches to nausea and, in severe cases, pneumonia.

Other health issues linked with human exposure to cat litter include cat scratch disease, roundworms and toxoplasmosis

Having more than one cat can create more odor around the litter box. Although there is no limit to a purifier’s odor-eliminating ability (given that the Activated Carbon filters are changed regularly), if you live in a multi-cat household, you may wish to opt for a more powerful air purifier so that it can quickly circulate the air in the space and reduce your exposure to unpleasant aromas.

However, if you place multiple litter boxes in separate rooms around the home, purchasing an air purifier for each space is advisable to keep your whole house smelling fresh. 

Increasing ventilation around the affected area is a good idea to start reducing litter box smells immediately. Moving the litter box near an open window or doorway is a significant first step to reducing the funky aroma in your home. 

You can invest in Activated Charcoal bags if you do not have the space or budget for an air purifier. But avoid using air fresheners or scented products near your cat’s litter box. Although this might help mask the smell of human noses, cats can be sensitive to new scents and some chemical fragrances can even be toxic. 

Keeping on top of cleaning the litter box is also essential to limit foul odors from spreading around your home. Cat waste should be cleared as soon as possible and the litter should be changed at least once a week. Don’t forget to clean the tray in the process thoroughly.  

If strong smells around the litter box persist after purchasing an air purifier, there may be an issue with your cat’s diet. Protein-rich foods given to kittens can cause a real stink, so switch to adult-appropriate foods when right.  

On top of the initial purchase cost of your air purifier, you can expect two ongoing outlays as you use the unit to remove litter box smells. 

The first is filter replacements. Mechanical filters are designed to capture pollutants as they pass through the unit. In HEPA filters, particles are trapped in tightly woven fiberglass pleats, while Activated Carbon filters trap pollutants in their porous substrate. 

Filters will, therefore, become saturated and lose efficiency over time. Replacement filter costs vary from manufacturer to manufacturer but often range from $30 – $50 for smaller, budget purifiers and $60 – $100 for specialist or larger units. 

As well as filter replacements, you can expect to see an increase in energy use. Most modern air purifiers come Energy Star certified, meaning using them regularly won’t cost the earth. To understand what energy costs lay in store.

Final thoughts 

Tired of the funk from your feline friend? Investing in a quality air purifier can restore your home’s aroma in minutes. Be sure to look for powerful units that circulate air quickly and ensure they utilize Activated Carbon filters for real odor-busting prowess. 

At HouseFresh, we have been reviewing air quality products since 2010. In all these years, we learned not to rely on manufacturers’ claims and the ever-so-glowing marketing materials. That is why we buy products with our own money, so we can write unbiased reviews after we’ve had enough time to evaluate air quality products in our home lab. Every unit we recommend has been thoroughly tested to assess its performance, energy consumption, and noise levels emitted in real-life environments. If you have any questions about our testing process for different types of air quality products, just drop us an email at hello@housefresh.com.

Last update on 2024-04-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

About the author

Paul Allen

Paul is a staff writer for HouseFresh, with a focus on product recommendations and advice for smokers and apartment dwellers. He started writing in November 2020, when he joined the content production team at NeoMam Studios (our parent company).